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My 'Why' - Kayla Bashe

Here's the latest blog post from our summer intern, Kayla Bashe -

During my gap year, I wanted to learn something useful, so I received training in first aid and CPR. Our instructor, a full-time EMT, told us about people whose lives could have been saved if only someone on the scene knew what to do, or about people who arrived at the hospital already dying because they hadn't known they were having a heart attack until it was too late. There was something incredibly empowering about receiving my little cardboard CPR certification card in the mail. I knew if I saw someone having a cardiac emergency, I would know what to do.

There's this saying that if you save someone's life, you save the entire world. Knowing that you're basically capable of doubling an entire world's chance of survival? There's nothing like it.

My father has been involved with the American Heart Association since I was an embryo. For a while, it was just 'That Thing My Dad Did', like watching cheesy comic-book movies or blasting religious techno music. But the more I learned about the AHA, the more I wanted to help. And when I realized I had a few free months during the summer, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

Recently, I helped out at the advocacy table at our gigantic, record-setting CPR event in Times Square. We had a huge variety of participants - every type of person from the Naked Cowboy and the owner of Marnie the Dog to a grandmother visiting from Australia and a seven-year-old girl in a Frozen T-shirt. So many of those people will probably go on to teach CPR to others. Some of them might even save lives.

Volunteering at the AHA is basically the gift that keeps on giving. I get to help write press releases that teach people about the signs of a stroke or heart attack and send letters to legislators explaining why CPR should be taught in New York City schools. Everything I do, sitting here at my laptop, ripples out to have an impact I can't even imagine. I guess you could say I 'heart' being involved with this organization.

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Students in Connecticut Will Learn CPR before they Graduate

Thanks to our advocates hard work and dedication Governor Malloy signed a bill on June 23rd requiring all schools to include CPR as part of the health and safety curriculum. Connecticut students will now have direct access to sensible and affordable training that will equip them with the lifesaving skills necessary to administer CPR if they encounter someone experiencing sudden cardiac arrest. So far, 23 states across the country have passed laws requiring every high school student to be CPR-trained before graduation, and it’s paying off. Graduates from just one school in Long Island, N.Y., have saved 16 lives since being trained. Congratulations on making Connecticut the 24rd state to require CPR training before graduation. I’m proud of all your hard work and you should be too.

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Vermont Heart Walk to Highlight the Team Effort that Saved a Local Coach!

Vermont advocates pushed for passage of legislation in 2012 that required schools to teach students Hands-only CPR and the importance of an AED (automated external defibrillator). Its efforts like these that have raised awareness to the need for public access to defibrillation and a strong chain of survival. Many schools now have AEDs on hand, including at sporting events.

It’s a good thing. The American Heart Association’s Vermont Heart Walk on September 26th will highlight the successful effort that saved the life of Rice High School Girls’ Basketball Coach Tim Rice from a cardiac arrest during a game against CVU this winter. The CVU team had the foresight to bring their AED to the game with them. That AED, along with many quick actions from bystanders and EMS enabled the coach to give a thumbs up as he left the game instead of much worse outcome.

We’ll honor Cardiologist Ed Terrien, who performed CPR on Coach Rice that day. Join Dr. Terrien and hundreds of others walking at the Vermont Heart Walk at Oakledge Park in Burlington on September 26th to raise funds for life-saving research.

There will also be Heart Walks on September 12th in Swanton and September 19th in Berlin. You can register for any of the walks at Do it today and make a commitment to save lives. Get your friends and family together for a great day and a great cause!

You can also ensure that your community and school have a strong chain of survival by contacting your local high school and asking if the school has an AED and making sure students are CPR-trained.

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AHA Celebrates CPR Awareness Week

Guest Blogger: Lindsay Hovind, Washington Government Relations Director

The American Heart Association and partner organizations fanned out across Western Washington last week to celebrate National CPR and AED Awareness Week. Volunteers hosted Hands-Only™ CPR trainings at famous local landmarks including the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Woodland Park Zoo. Each training session taught adults and kids alike how to get medical help and perform chest compressions, as well as practice compressions on manikins.

Why is CPR training so important? Each year, an estimated 326,200 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States, which can lead to unexpected death. Cardiac arrest is the abrupt loss of heart function in a person who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease. Nationwide about 92 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital, but statistics prove that if more people knew CPR, more lives could be saved. Immediate CPR can double, or even triple, a victim’s chance of survival.

Have you learned Hands-Only CPR? In less than two minutes you can learn to save a life. There are just two simple steps: 1. Call 911. 2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest until help arrives.

Special thanks to our partner organizations who helped make these National CPR and AED Awareness Week trainings possible: City of Seattle, King County, Medic One Foundation, Mountain to Sound Chapter of American Association of Critical Care Nurses, Nick of Time Foundation, and The Hope Heart Institute.

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It's Unanimous! CPR in Schools Legislation Passes Oregon Legislature

Guest Blogger: Sarah Higginbotham, Oregon Government Relations Director 

If you suffer sudden cardiac arrest, your best chance at survival is receiving bystander CPR until EMTs arrive. But most do not. That’s a reality that’s about to change in Oregon.

On May 28th, Senate Bill 79, a bill that would require all Oregon students to be trained in CPR before graduation successfully passed out of the Oregon House of Representatives. This milestone marked the last vote for the “CPR in Schools” legislation, and continued the bill’s track record of broad support. The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Kate Brown where it will await her signature.

SB 79 is a major victory for Oregonians. It will help create 45,000 new lifesavers a year by ensuring every student learns the simple, life-saving skill of CPR. This is important because each year, nearly 424,000 people have sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and only 10.4% of these victims survive. Sudden cardiac arrest can happen any place, at any time—4 out of 5 in the U.S. happen at home.

However, CPR is easy to learn and simple. After calling 9-1-1, push hard and fast in the center of the chest at 100 beats per minute. When a CPR-trained bystander is near, they can double, even triple these victims’ survival rates by giving victims the help they need until the EMTs arrive.

The success of the bill is due to dozens of dedicated advocates who spoke up by meeting with legislators, testified in the State Capitol, and shared their expertise and stories. It is also due to the hundreds of Oregonians who signed letters to legislators, calling for action.

A special thanks to Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, Joanne Hatch, Chief Mike Duyck, Piseth Pich, Valley Catholic Middle School, Herb Lommen, Raoul Meekcoms, Jennifer Stafford, Legacy Health, Josh Moore, Kaylee Nelson, Clackamas Fire District #1, William Conway, Tamara Owen, Dr. Minot Cleveland, Dr. Robert Quintos, Jim Balsiger, Julien Comardelle, Andrew Gable, South Salem High School, Kathy August, Ali Massey, Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, Jay Woods, Dr. Erin Burnham, Sandi Mackey and Tina Kaufman. Without the advocacy of these special volunteers, we couldn’t have done it.

Oregon joins 20 other states who have already passed CPR in Schools legislation.

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Kaylee Nelson: The lives we will save

My name is Kaylee Nelson, and I live in Springfield, Oregon. I’m a recent University of Oregon graduate, the current Miss Three Rivers, and a volunteer with Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue’s CPR in schools initiative, ACT:C3.

I’d like to share with you why Senate Bill 79 (CPR in Schools) is important for Oregon.

Cardiac arrest can happen at anytime, anywhere. Four out of five times, it happens at home. While the life that you save could be a stranger, it’s more likely to be a friend or family member. The last time that it was studied, Oregon ranked as the 5th worst state for cardiac arrest survival (MMWR Feb 15, 2002 51(06):123-6).

I know firsthand what it’s like to feel helpless in an emergency when a loved one is in trouble. In 2011, I watched as my sister had a seizure. It is such a terrible feeling to watch someone you love go through something like that and to feel utterly helpless at the same time. What frustrates me the most is that there was only one person out of a crowd of twenty that stepped forward to help her. Thankfully my sister did not need CPR that day, but I knew that I never wanted to feel helpless like that ever again. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.

That’s why I have volunteered my time to support the work of Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue and their initiative to improve survival rates from sudden cardiac arrest. Since 2012, the department has trained approximately 3,000 students in Hands-Only CPR at 10 middle and high schools in Lane County. They’ve enlisted the help of other community members, including college students from the Alpha Phi sorority at the University of Oregon.

During these classroom trainings, I have found that CPR is both easy to learn and simple to teach. We are able to educate students about CPR, as well as to provide students with hands-on training and practice within one class period. Teachers are welcoming and helpful. Students are excited, engaged, and empowered.

The work of fire departments like Eugene Springfield Fire & Rescue is invaluable—but they can’t do it alone. Schools can play a critical role in helping to equip the next generation with this simple, lifesaving skill. Ensuring that CPR training is required for all students will put more lifesavers into every community across the state. Across the country, 21 states have passed similar legislation requiring students to be CPR-trained prior to graduating. It’s time for Oregon to join in.

Anyone can learn CPR and everyone should know how. With this bill alone, 45,000 trained lifesavers will be added to our Oregon community every year. Think of the lives they will save.

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Maine Celebrates #NationalCPRWeek with a Huge Victory

Maine celebrates National CPR Week with huge vote!

Well, the Governor did it again. He vetoed another lifesaving bill. The Governor vetoed LD556, a bill that requires that all high school students spend 20 minutes out of 4 years of school learning Hands-Only CPR. That is the bad news.

The fantastic news is that the Legislature voted to override the Governor’s veto (131-15 in the House and 31-4 in the Senate). That means despite the Governor’s objections, this bill that will empower 12,000-13,000 high school students each year by teaching them Hands-Only CPR before they graduate will become law.

Wonderful volunteers, like Randi Clatchey (you can find her story in the spotlight section) worked their hearts out to get this done. I can’t do my job for the American Heart Association without our wonderful, hardworking volunteers.

Those of you that filled out a postcard at one of our events played a huge role. I was able to distribute postcards to 29 out of 35 Senators encouraging their support. Those postcards made quite a difference. Some Senators received over 20 postcards.

The calls and emails helped too. Legislators told me: "Oh right, CPR, I heard from a bunch of folks about that bill. Of course I will support you."

Thank you for all you do for AHA/ASA. Your efforts on this bill will undoubtedly save lives.

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A New World Record!

The American Heart Association took over Times Square in New York City to set a new Guinness World Record - for the longest running set of consecutive chest compressions in a CPR Relay.  It was a powerful day highlighting the real reasons why CPR training matters.  The designation as a new Guinness World Record required that at least 250 people had to perform quality chest compressions in the relay. In the end, over 700 participated including survivors, clinicians, paramedics, teachers, students, families impacted by sudden cardiac arrest and more! 

The American Heart Association hosted the event in New York City as part of National CPR & AED Awareness Week. Relay participants each took a turn performing at least 60 chest compressions at 100 beats per minute on a single mannequin, with five seconds or less between turns.

Lawrence Phillips, M.D., director of nuclear cardiology at NYU Langone Medical Center and the visionary leader of this event, was No. 250 in the relay, officially setting the world record.  In true New York fashion, we then obliterated the record by achieving 700 total participants!

The AHA also presented its New York Region Heartsaver Hero Awards at the event. The distinguished awards are presented to those who have directly attempted to rescue a victim of cardiac arrest or otherwise helped to strengthen the Chain of Survival.

Congratulations to each of our award winners:

Jim Palmer

Marcy Syms

Patti Kenner

Jerry Kertesz of the Anthem Foundation

KKR & Co., LP

Karen and John Acompora

Joe Mendrick

JJ Pesany

Annette Adamczak

Sue Denis

Consulado General De México en Nueva York

Jody Scopa Goldman

James M. Horowitz, MD

Steve Tannenbaum

Lynne Strong-Shinozaki

Dave Gill

Tommy Watson

Fire Department of New York

Brandon Johnson, MD 

Nicholas Farber, MD

Lawrence M. Phillips, MD

*Photo by Angie Harrison

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Knowing CPR Saved My Son

A lifesaving event retold by Kristy Stoner

In June 2014, my friend Erin and I planned a pool day together as we decided we would spend the afternoon together at her private community pool, where we could eat lunch and chat while the kids could swim. We both have 4 kids all under the age of 8. The day went pretty much as expected, perfect weather, kids got along and we were having a great time.

Towards the end of the day, I had a distinct thought “It’s quiet…” and in a home of 4 boys, quiet is NEVER a good thing, unless they are sleeping. I looked over and noticed only 3 boys, off to the side of the pool. And, after a quick scan of the pool I said “Where’s Max?” Almost immediately Erin yelled, “Kristy! He’s in the water!” I had noticed in the middle of the deep end a small, slightly darker area, all the way at the bottom. My heart dropped when I realized that tiny, hard to see figure was in fact my little boy’s body. What else could it be?!

I knew I had to get him out and I had to do it fast! All in a matter of seconds Erin had taken my 8 month old baby, Harry, from my arms and I jumped in the pool.  Mid jump I remember noticing how calm the water was. There were no signs of struggle on the water. Then I noticed his body-hunched over in an upside down U position, with his arms hanging down and his back at the highest point just like in the movies.

Once I grabbed him and made my way to the side of the pool, Erin called 911. When I got to the side, I tried to throw his body out, but again, I was brutally disappointed when I realized how heavy his lifeless body was.

Once I got him out of the water, I rolled him onto his back, I then realized the color, or lack thereof, of his face. His face, lips, and eyelids were completely bluish grey. All I remember thinking was, "Time to make him breathe.” So I took a large settling breath and proceeded with CPR techniques I learned 10 years ago!

I'm not sure how long I was working on him, we guess it was about 2 minutes, but I remember noticing when I would breathe for him, the color would come back to his face a little at a time.  At one point, Max's eyes flickered a little and I remember the sense of gratitude that rushed over me at that moment. Then all at once, his eyes opened as wide as they could possibly go. He tried to breathe, but he still couldn't, so I breathed for him a couple more times and then set him up to try and get him to breathe on his own!!

I could hear the water inside of his breath so Erin handed me the phone to talk to the 911 dispatcher. The dispatcher wanted me to calm him down, so his body would be able to throw up the remaining water in his lungs. Eventually, he threw up. It was 99% water.

The EMT's arrived a few moments later and started checking him. I'm so glad they brought a fire truck too, because that made Max happy and helped to cheer him up. He talks about it now when he tells the story. How he got to see a fire truck up close and ride in an ambulance!

In the ambulance, Max didn't want to talk much, but he did provide his explanation of events:  "I was swimming on the red floaty, my arms slipped off. I tried doing my scoops (swim strokes), got tired and then I sinked!” Once they knew he was stable they let him go to sleep.

At the hospital, I answered a lot of questions, but am still surprised how many people wanted to know "What did you do?" "How did you do it?" "How long did you do it?" Everyone was so encouraging, so positive, and so sweet to me. I consistently heard "Good job mom! You saved his life!"

Eventually, I was able to talk to the RN watching over Max. He told me "how lucky we were," and I asked him with a drowning like ours, what were the chances of full recovery. He replied with "It is a miracle he is alive." Alive?! A miracle that maybe he didn't have water in his lungs or any noticeable long-term damage, yes, but, a miracle he was alive? Really? Why wouldn't he be? I sat and thought about that for quite a while. Maybe I did do something right. Maybe, just maybe I did save his life! I had no idea! We later asked the doctor why people don't do CPR and the doctor said "either fear, panic, fear of doing something wrong and causing more problems, or the fact that it's gross." We were shocked! But, more importantly, I was so happy that the idea of not doing CPR had never even crossed my mind.

Truth is that 80% of sudden cardiac arrests (when the heart suddenly stops) happen out of a hospital setting, while only 40% of those victims receive CPR on the spot before EMT's arrive and only about 10% of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive the event.

Since the incident Max has made a full recovery; he even persuaded me to let him swim the NEXT DAY!! My lasting thoughts are that we cannot watch our kids 100% of the time. We can’t. We need to teach them to be smart and how to protect themselves. As parents, we also need to be prepared. Be prepared on how to respond in an emergency situation, learn CPR and first aid training that could save the life of a loved one!

If you want to refresh your knowledge of CPR techniques, please visit here.

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We Are One Step Closer to Creating a Generation of Lifesavers in CT!

We have made it to the final step to requiring all students in Connecticut to know CPR before the graduate! The Senate and the House both passed the bill in late May and now it goes to the Governor! Your advocacy has truly made a difference!  Effective CPR training takes less than the amount of time to watch a typical 30 minute TV sitcom.  We can help add hundreds of trained rescuers across the State every few years by training all middle and high school students. Those students will be ready, willing and able to act and save lives for years to come, if they witness an emergency within their community. We are excited to ensure that the Governor signs this critical lifesaving legislation. If you want to reach out and help, please email me at and we can give you everything you need!

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